Hamill Family Foundation: Grants for the Environment Conversation

OVERVIEW: The Hamill Family Foundation's support of the environment involves local and regional Chicagoland organizations, as well as national and international outfits. The foundation's largest sums tend to prioritize Chicago-area organizations.

IP TAKE: The foundation lacks transparency and does not appear to accept unsolicited proposals. Networking will be key for getting on this Chicago family's radar. 

PROFILE: The Hamill Family Foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of Segall Bryant & Hamill cofounder Jonathan C. Hamill and his sisters, Elizabeth, and Nancy. The late Corwith "Corky" Hamill was once president of the Chicago Zoological Society and Joan Smith Hamill was considered a driving force in the creation of the Illinois Prairie Path. As well, Joan was an accomplished horsewoman involved with the United States Equestrian Team. According to tax filings, grantmaking invests in the environment, among other interests.

Hamill, Elizabeth, and Nancy have continued in their parents' footsteps. Hamill sits on the board of Openlands and is a trustee emeritus of the Illinois chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Elizabeth is a founding board member at Barrington Area Conservation Trust, a land conservation and preservation organization in Barrington, Illinois. Nancy first became involved with The Nature Conservancy in the late 1980s. Additionally, Nancy helped start Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, a "nonprofit charitable educational organization", as well as the Equine Land Conservation Resource, which works with landowners to protect rural lands for horseback riding. 

The family has supported Chicago Zoological Society, home to the Hamill Family Wild Encounters. Other big winners include Openlands, a Chicago organization that supports "community gardening, biking and paddling trails, farmland protection, and many other conservation initiatives;" Environmental Law and Policy Center; The Conservation Foundation; Nature Conservancy in Illinois; and Teton Regional Land Trust. 

The Hamill Family Foundation recently made a substantial gift to Openlands to establish the Corwith Hamill Legacy Fund, which will help "protect and restore critical natural lands within the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding area." A multiyear $1.5 million gift to The Conservation Foundation, meanwhile, established the Joan and Corwith Hamill Fox River Land Fund to support land acquisition in the Fox River Valley, where the Hamills spent much of their childhood.

The family has also supported national and international organizations like Environmental Defense Fund; Sierra Club Foundation; Natural Resources Defense Council; Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund; and Conservacion Patagonica, which "works to create national parks in Patagonia that save and restore wildlands and wildlife, inspire care for the natural world, and generate healthy economic opportunities for local communities." The foundation has also helped bankroll environmental programming for PBS

In a recently reported tax year, the foundation gave away around $5.6 million. Many individual grants are under $25,000. Apart from the environment, the foundation's grantmaking also involves supporting education and human services. Because the Hamill Family Foundation keeps such a low profile, an exact description of what the family looks for in its environmental grantees is hard to come by. 


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Hamill Family Foundation

200 W. Madison St., Ste. 3400
Chicago, IL 60606